By Andrea Fox, EfficientGov Senior Editor
Water is food, energy, drink and home.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The first ever White House Water Summit held on World Water Day brought together federal leadership with water financing experts, scientists and other stakeholders to discuss the costs of domestic water infrastructure, drought response, climate change and other issues that have become serious problems throughout the United States.
President Obama has put water back on the POTUS agenda with Flint, Mich., drinking water infrastructure looming large and California’s drought impacts going on and on. Not to mention the long-documented problems reported by environmental agencies, the water industry and waterkeepers.
It’s really water budgeting on the agenda–in a sense. To scientists, a water budget would catalog every drop—in any state–from the canopy to what the Earth beneath us holds. We’ve never done that regionally, let alone nationally. But domestically, the government, industry and scientists are looking into the finite resource concerns of water.
Some of today’s expert panelists gave details on the following:
- How are we monitoring our freshwater sources?
- How are we going to finance dependable and safe water delivery systems?
- How are we managing for drought as well as catastrophic storms and floods?
There is no corner of this country that is not untouched by a water issue–from the water quality impacts of stormwater and industry, to the crumbling infrastructure that is, in some cases, tainting our drinking water and climate impacts like crippling crop loss due to drought and catastrophic damage caused by storms.
There were many announcements and news items last night and today timed to coincide with water making our national agenda. Some highlights include:
- There is money available, the White House announced.
- Congress is also going for more SRF funding. “Ninety-six House Democrats asked the House Appropriations Committee todouble funding for the state revolving funds (SRF), to $US 4 billion. The funds provide low-interest loans for water and sewer projects,” according to last night’s Growing Calls in Congress for Water Infrastructure Funding in Circle of Blue’s Federal Water Tap.
- Industry is putting up money for water reuse–greywater and stormwater. Sustainable Water, which creates large-scale water reclamation and reuse, announced $500 million to develop 50 water reclamation systems. There is an acceptance cap of 10 for municipal government applicants with public treatment works proposals. Learn more and apply on Sustainable Water’s White House Water Summit Commitment page.
- The Western states have a forum to coordinate water resources. President Obama wrote a Presidential Memorandum institutionalizing the National Drought Resilience Partnership, designed for better communication and coordination in the West, said ThinkProgress.org’s White House Responds To Western Governors’ Call For Action On Drought.
- Media publishes food for thought. The New York Times ran an opinion piece “Our Water System: What a Waste,” by Michael Webber, author of “Thirst for Power: Energy, Water and Human Survival,” which suggests impassioned solves.
- Stakeholders provide tools. The Nature Conservancy launches Texas Freshwater Explorer.